Kalanchoe beharensis (Velvet Elephant Ear)

Kalanchoe beharensis

Last updated on September 6th, 2022 at 09:09 pm

The kalanchoe beharensis, or velvet elephant ear, is one of the prettiest succulents you’ll ever see, with glossy, arrowhead-shaped leaves that are big enough to use as the biggest house plant in your home! Despite its beauty, this plant tends to be smaller than most succulents, only growing up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall and wide.

The Velvet Elephant Ear plant can be grown outside year-round in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12, where the plant requires full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.

The plant will grow indoors as well, where it will flower more abundantly with good lighting and plenty of water, although the leaves tend to be less shiny when grown in the home environment than they are when grown outdoors or in full sun.

Kalanchoe beharensis is an unusual succulent plant that’s been around since the 1800s, and it’s still popular today due to its odd leaves and pretty flowers. It originated in India, but you can grow one yourself if you keep the plant’s needs in mind and follow these tips for how to care for a kalanchoe elephant ear plant!

Origin and distribution

Kalanchoe beharensis is native to Madagascar. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant, including in western Europe and eastern North America. It has become naturalized in scattered locations in North America, South America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Pacific islands.

It has also been introduced by humans into tropical regions worldwide and grows as a weed in many areas of China. In its native range, it can be found from sea level up to 1000 m altitude.

The species is reportedly naturalized in Mauritius, Réunion, Seychelles, and Hawaii. In Florida it has escaped cultivation and can be found growing wild in several counties north of Miami-Dade County; it may have been introduced there intentionally as an ornamental plant or accidentally via potted plants discarded by people moving out of southern Florida after Hurricane Andrew struck southern Dade County in 1992.

Kalanchoe beharensis propagation

Kalanchoe beharensis

Kalanchoe beharensis plants are popular succulent plants and common houseplants. The best way to propagate Kalanchoe is by leaf or stem cuttings. Simply remove a leaf, strip off as much of its lower leaves as possible, and bury it in a glass of sand with just enough water so that only an inch of exposed stem remains above water.

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Place it in bright sunlight and wait for new roots to form, which should take about two weeks if given adequate sun exposure and kept lightly moist at all times.

When you see a few small root hairs growing from where you buried your leaf, you can plant it into the soil and begin watering normally. If you’re propagating your kalanchoe from a cutting taken from one of its stems, be sure to choose healthy-looking stems with plenty of growth points on them.

Cut them into sections approximately 1/2′′ long using clean scissors and place them into small pots filled with potting soil mixed with perlite or vermiculite.

Kalanchoe beharensis care information

Kalanchoe beharensis

Kalanchoe beharensis is a tropical, perennial plant. You can grow it outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12 or indoors year-round with bright light and high humidity. Kalanchoe may not survive freezing temperatures, so bring it inside before winter if you live in a cold climate.

The plant tends to wilt under low-light conditions, and wilting often causes leaves to drop from the stems.

Kalanchoe beharensis produces clusters of slender, deep green leaves tipped with velvet-soft grey-green ‘ears’ about 5 cm long. The lower surface of each leaf is covered in velvety golden brown hairs, hence one of its common names, Velvet elephant ear. As well as being extremely soft to touch, Kalanchoe beharensis flowers are also very striking and unusual.

Light requirement

Kalanchoe beharensis prefers light shade and morning sun. Outdoors it grows in full sun to part shade and does well on a covered patio or terrace with filtered light. Full sun may cause leaves to scorch if grown outdoors in areas with hot summers. Move indoors in fall before temperatures dip below 60 degrees F. In containers, keep the soil moderately moist and fertilize it every two weeks.

Soil/potting mix

Your plant is native to Madagascar and does best in soil-rich inorganic matter. Use a standard houseplant potting mix or create your own by mixing equal parts of peat moss, vermiculite, composted bark, coarse sand, and perlite.

You can also use an African violet potting mix because it has been designed for growing plants from arid regions with sandy soils. The mix should retain moisture but drain quickly as kalanchoe does not like soggy soil.

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A good rule of thumb is that if you squeeze a handful of soil and water drips out, it’s too wet. If you squeeze out nothing at all, then it’s too dry. Plants should be watered until water comes out of their drainage holes and then allowed to dry slightly before watering again.

A general rule for watering succulent plants is that they require less frequent watering than other types of plants because they store water in their leaves and stems.

Watering

Kalanchoe beharensis will do fine if allowed to dry out between waterings, and they prefer to be on the dry side. Water when soil is completely dry to your touch. Overwatering is a leading cause of death for Kalanchoes. Use a pot with drainage holes and use a container underneath to catch any water that drains from your pot. If you let it sit in standing water, it will root rot and die quickly.

Fertilizer

Kalanchoe beharensis should be fertilized every two weeks, with a balanced fertilizer. Use about one-fourth of a recommended dilution of 20-20-20 for indoor plants, and half that amount for outdoor plants in an area where you don’t mind if your plant is a little messy—it will clean up its leaves by dropping them in response to overfertilization.

If you want your plant to look neat all year long, feed it once a month instead. Outdoor kalanchoes can also benefit from a dose of Epsom salts during dry spells; mix 1 tablespoon per gallon of water and give it as needed.

Temperature

The plant can tolerate and thrive in a wide variety of temperatures, from warm to cool, so long as it is kept indoors or in very well-drained soil. You should keep your plants indoors during colder months, particularly if you live in an area that sees heavy snowfall during those months. Without protection from snow and ice accumulation, new growth will be damaged or killed.

The Velvet Elephant ear plant is a tropical plant and needs warmth to grow well. It can tolerate temperatures down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but it will not flower or grow well below 60.

The ideal temperature range for flowering is 70-90 degrees. An outdoor location may not be right for these plants due to their sensitivity to cool weather. If you are growing them outside, make sure they have shade during the hottest part of the day and plenty of humidity in dry climates.

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Humidity

The kalanchoe beharensis plant does best in moderately humid conditions but can withstand dry air if given enough water. When a kalanchoe is too dry, its leaves become discolored and fall off.

If it becomes too hot or cold, it will wilt. Keep your kalanchoe between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit with at least 40% humidity. Be sure to also keep it away from drafty areas like near doors or windows.

Pruning

Plants will have an easier time surviving if their roots are confined to a pot that’s one or two sizes smaller than what they were previously in. If you want to take cuttings, give your plant some extra space in its current pot. The added room will make it easier for new roots to grow before making contact with other surface roots.

When taking cuttings, prune them just below where a leaf node begins and place it back into the soil. This is often called air layering. Just be sure not to disturb any of your plant’s existing roots as you do so.

When to repot

Potted Kalanchoe beharensis prefer to be planted in a small pot, and they grow quickly. If you’re growing your plant in a container, you’ll want to repot it every 2 years. When choosing a new pot, opt for one that is roughly 10 percent larger than its current home.

Repotting kalanchoes during their dormant season will result in fewer leaf yellowing issues. Kalanchoes grown outdoors can be left in place until early spring. Kalanchoes grown indoors should have been removed from their pots by mid-fall and allowed to rest over winter as cuttings or divisions so they can resume growth early next year.

Dormancy

Kalanchoe beharensis

During winter dormancy, Kalanchoe beharensis requires a frost-free environment to prevent leaf damage. Temperatures between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for these plants. They may need protection from cold drafts as well. Place your plant in an area of bright, indirect light.

Reduce watering during dormancy, but do not allow water to sit on top of or around leaves. Instead, place pebbles or another absorbent material into the bottom of your container so that excess water drains away from the leaves. This will help prevent rot and fungal infections. Your plant should be ready to return outside after all danger of frost has passed.

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Kalanchoe beharensis flower & fragrance

The most noticeable feature of Kalanchoe beharensis is its striking and vibrant flowers. Its flowers are a deep purple color, but at different times of day, they can exhibit colors ranging from blue to purple to white. The flowers last for about three weeks before fading. The flower stems reach up to six feet tall, creating a cascading effect that brings attention to your landscape.

Growth rate

Kalanchoe beharensis is an extremely slow-growing plant and doesn’t like to be moved once it has rooted. You will want to keep it in a permanent place in your home for its entire life. However, you can use small stones or bricks to hold it up if you prefer not to have your plant weighed down by soil. The best locations are bright spots that get as much natural light as possible.

This plant thrives best in temperatures between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Toxicity

A lot of people have been under the impression that kalanchoe beharensis is toxic to animals. However, it does not contain any substances that are harmful to your pets. In fact, studies have shown that feeding small amounts of kalanchoe to cats may help with nausea and diarrhea! Try topping your feline’s food dish with a leaf or two for safe and tasty mealtime fun.

USDA Hardiness Zones

Kalanchoe beharensis thrives in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11. In colder climates, it is grown as an annual or potted plant. It is best to grow kalanchoe beharensis indoors in areas with a Mediterranean climate or similar, where it can be planted outdoors during warm months and brought inside during winter.

Pests and diseases

While kalanchoe beharensis is resistant to many pests and diseases, they can still be an issue in certain situations. Aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, and red spider mites are often attracted to kalanchoes because of their size and succulent leaves. These pests can spread quickly from plant to plant through contact with their roots or infected branches.

Fortunately, you have many options for fighting back against these infestations and ridding your plants of pests for good.

Conclusion

The velvety foliage and rich red/pink hues of Kalanchoe beharensis make it a lovely addition to any garden or home. Whether growing indoors as a houseplant or outdoors in your yard, there are few varieties of succulents that can rival its beauty. Thanks for reading!